The Power of Two!! (Milestones)

accomplish-1136863_640I am very happy because this week I have hit two milestones. My retirement savings have finally hit the $200K mark (between my two accounts).  And I finally have over $2000 in my online savings account.  Yes, I still have debt but there is something comforting about looking at that number and seeing it again.  It’s been a long time.

I used to think that you needed to save $1,000,000 if you were going to be able to retire comfortably.  Of course, I used to think I needed the house, white picket fence, 2 cars and a garage to be happy.  My, how times (and perspectives) have changed!! It’s comforting to know now how much less I can survive on and still feel happy.

To many of  you, that may not sound like a lot to have saved in my basic savings accounts.  Some folks try to save $2K per month.  But in the grand scheme of things and relative to my very low income of about $24K per year (not counting the transcribing I’ve been lucky to get thanks to my friend Elaine), it feels good.  I’m saving 7% pre-tax and about 13% post tax to fund various savings accounts (or sinking funds, as some like to call them.)

And I’m almost up to $1K in my tiny house fund.  Yes, I have a long way to go.  But as my friend Dan says, I’m determined, and he knows there’s no stopping me when I set my mind to something.

Now that I’ve set my mind to something, I see opportunities opening up to me.  I was offered the chance to make some overtime at work, at another animal hospital that is undergoing some staffing shortages and I’ve taken them up on three extra shifts.  Overtime, baby! And a co-worker of mine was scheduled to work Christmas morning and she has a three year old kid. I offered to work her 6:30-12:30 shift.  It’s a win for both of us.  She gets to spend the holiday with her kid and I get paid 2.5 times my regular rate.  And the more my paycheck is worth, the more goes into my 401(k) for that paycheck because my contribution is based on a percentage, not a set dollar amount.

Last night, on my way home from work, I passed two people pushing their shopping carts full of their only belongings.  It makes me very sad to see so much of that in this city.

It makes me even more determined to not let that happen to me.  I might not want to work the next two weeks in a row without a day off, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices, and like I said in an earlier post, sometimes you just have to say to yourself, “whatever it takes.”

What kind of milestones are you reaching for?  What kind of milestones have you reached already that have made  you feel awesome and even more motivated??

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No Matter How Old You Are, You’re Still Someone’s Baby

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These two will always be my babies, even though they are 14. (Bonkers and Osito)

I talked to my mom last night on the phone. As usual, she worried about me “freezing to death” in this RV of mine. No matter how many times I have told her I am ok, I have lots of warm blankets, and the animals to curl up with at night, plus two space heaters, she still worries. She worries about the heat and the money situation. She’s a mom. I’m 43, and she’s turning 77 this year, but I’m still her middle child.

After I hung up the phone, I realized I should have said to her, “Mom, don’t worry about me. You taught me right.” We didn’t have a lot growing up, and she ended up cleaning houses after my parents split, to make ends meet and also to be home when we got home from school. But what she taught me is that there is always a way to make things work. I may not make a lot of money right now, and it does seem frustrating when I figure out my bills for the next pay period and see “wow, I’ve got like 120 to make it through including my food and gas” but then I remind myself, it’s doable. I don’t need a lot. And I only have that small amount because I am insisting on putting some money into savings every month. I refuse to live, as they say “paycheck to paycheck.” It is very, very important to me to have a cushion. If there’s one thing I have learned over the past several years, it’s that I never EVER want to go back to that feeling of having pretty much nothing in the bank and a maxed out credit card to boot.

When I tell people that I think my fifth wheel is too big for me and my fur family, you should see the looks I get from some people. It’s quite clear that they think I’m insane. But what I see is a big trailer that has high ceilings, which, while I love their sense of openness, cost more to heat, and cool. What I see is that in the evenings, after I eat my dinner, we all hang out together in the bedroom portion of the fifth wheel (in my case, it’s a front bedroom so it would be the part of the trailer that would be hanging over the bed of the truck, if there was one attached.) We all hang out on my cozy bed, with a space heater cranking away, and either a good book or a TV show or something on netflix to keep us comfy. They tend to gather close to me, and I feel very loved. When I wake up in the morning, they are usually all still there.

So, we don’t need all this space. I don’t need the big closet that spans the width of my trailer. I have two dresses I brought with me from Boston, and have yet to wear them. None of my clothes need to be ironed. (In fact, I don’t even own one and plan on never needing one again.) I could fold them all and put them in bins and be just fine, which would most likely be the case in a smaller RV.)  My animals are all seniors (two turn 15 this year) so they don’t have all the crazy energy of young kittens and puppies. They like to be warm and to rest. (As I write this, one is sitting on my lap with his head on the table – if he could reach the computer keyboard to rest it there, trust me, he would.)

Making a lot less money than I ever have before in my life, I realize now what is important to me. The beauty of the natural world around me, good friends, the love of my animals, a great book to keep me company (currently reading Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl, which was  a gift from someone and I highly recommend it). Food that allows me to retain my health. Exercise to keep myself strong. Having my priorities straight for my life and trying to evade the negativity of others and the world when it rears its ugly head. Making sure I have enough food to feed myself and my animals. Knowing I will see family in just less than two weeks when my brother embarks on yes, another 100 mile race, and when my sister will be coming to visit in February. It’s these things I have been trying to focus on, rather than what I don’t have.

And yes, Mom, not freezing to death in the winter. 🙂

What do you focus on to ground yourself in this life?

As always, thank you for reading.

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